Chef Andrew Dahl’s passion for cooking began at a young age while shadowing and observing his mother create delicious food in the kitchen. A talented home cook, he fondly remembers helping her prepare extravagant meals and host dinner parties for their family and friends. During his childhood, his parents also owned an English Pub which introduced him to the restaurant industry at an early age.
“I’ve always loved being in the kitchen, so as soon as I was legally allowed to work, I got my first kitchen job,” says Chef Dahl. He then enrolled in the culinary program at George Brown College and following his formal training, he spent three years honing his craft at Bymark, a popular establishment in Toronto’s Financial District. He also spent time at PORT Restaurant which overlooks the Pickering waterfront.
From 2014 to 2017, Chef Dahl worked as Sous Chef and later Co-Head Chef at Indie Alehouse, a small brewpub in Toronto’s Junction neighbourhood, where he discovered his love of craft beer and its subtle nuances and flavour profiles. “There is so much more to beer than what many large macro-breweries produce. I feel craft beer has as much character, if not more, than wine, making for very exciting food pairings.” Chef Dahl explains.
Fueled by his interest in brewing, he joined the team to open Northern Maverick Brewing Co. as Executive Sous Chef, and soon rose to the position of Executive Chef. Northern Maverick is an expansive restaurant-brewery in Toronto’s King West neighbourhood. The space features a 10-hectolitre brewhouse with eight 20-hl fermenters, a 400-seat restaurant, bar and retail store.
Under his leadership, Northern Maverick has become Toronto’s downtown destination for delicious handcrafted food and craft beer. Chef Dahl’s fiercely local menu from his award-winning kitchen, features dishes that complement Northern Maverick’s brews, including a chef/brewmaster tasting menu complete with beer pairings and house-made charcuterie.
When asked what makes Northern Maverick special, Chef Dahl says, “Being trusted to freely express my passion for craft beer and local food has been an amazing experience.”
This past spring, the Northern Maverick team embarked on a new venture and launched MAV, a nightlife destination that pushes the conventional boundaries of the Toronto entertainment scene. Open Friday and Saturday evenings from 11:00 p.m.- 2:00 a.m., the expansive brewery transforms inviting guests into its high energy atmosphere. In addition to serving premium champagne, liquor and of course craft beer, MAV also offers a high calibre culinary experience with a late night menu.
When asked about the concept behind the venue’s late night menu that features an oyster bar, caviar and cheese towers, Chef Dahl says, “We knew that for MAV we wanted to offer our guests something a little different than what’s available at Northern Maverick. We’ve kept the same emphasis on local products and in-house preparation, but designed a menu to complement the MAV experience and its premium table service.”
Get to know more about the Executive Chef of Northern Maverick Brewing Co. through this exclusive interview:
Do you have a lucky charm in the kitchen?
My lucky spoon! I was out for a post-shift pint with the kitchen crew back in 2012 and I fell in love with a spoon at the restaurant. Of course, I absolutely had to take it with me. It’s even named after the restaurant it came from.
Your favourite spice?
Chilli Flakes. This was passed down to me from a mentor of mine, where every cook in the kitchen was expected to have them in their mise.
What makes you “kitchen angry”?
When staff, front of house or back of the house, don’t put care into tasks.
Latest flavour combination you discovered?
Scallops, bacon, and pumpkin.
What’s your most extravagant purchase?
A beautiful 13″ Japanese slicing knife I bought from Tosho Knife Arts. I bought it as a gift to myself when I was put on the grill station at a high-end restaurant when I was just 25.
Favourite song in the kitchen?
Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin
What’s your comfort food?
Any kind of pizza, even if it has pineapple.
What’s your most essential tool?
Spoons. I’m a spoon nerd. I currently have five spoons on me right now. For tasting, for plating, for stirring, for basting, for saucing, and for spinning around my finger to calm my nervous twitch (I’m mostly kidding).
Favourite smell in the kitchen?
So many! Roasting pork, the smoker when it’s at full blast, cured meats, and bacon.
If you could change anything in the food industry, what would it be?
The old-school battle for ‘alpha-male’ in the kitchen. I have learned much more from chefs that show kindness and compassion instead of hostility and bullying.
According to you, what does the next generation of chefs need to succeed?
Patience. In the past few years, there has been a giant surge of young cooks fresh out of culinary school expecting to be given high-level positions without experience or knowledge.
Take the time to learn from a good chef or good kitchen team. No chef will ever know everything about food, but until you know more than anyone else in the room, there’s still time to learn and be humble.
What advice do you have for chefs who want to start incorporating beer into their food menu?
Taste your beer before you start. If you’re using a particularly hoppy beer, you run the risk of that bitterness amplifying once it begins to reduce, making the flavour unpalatable.
What’s your bad habit?
Not eating. You can’t be efficient or focus if you’re hungry. Often in this industry, you get so immersed in what you’re doing that you literally forget to eat, whether you realize that you’re hungry or not. Proper meals are the first important step to self-care for a cook.
What do you admire in other chefs?
Unwavering integrity. Staying true to yourself, and taking care of your team, your kitchen, and your food.
Who or what is your greatest inspiration?
My family. Every dish I put up, I ask myself if I would serve this to my parents. They are the reason I push myself to be the best I can be.
The thing you are the most proud of?
Becoming the Executive Chef of a 400-seat brewpub by the age of 31.
What’s your end of the world menu?
Steak Tartare, cured meats, stinky cheeses, my mother’s Beef Stroganoff, and a Northern Maverick Enforcer IPA.
Your favourite piece of advice or quote?
“Skills can be taught. Character you either have or you don’t have.” -Anthony Bourdain
All photos by Northern Maverick